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The Big Four - The Detective Club is a short story collection, containing the twelve short stories that was later reworked into the novel with the same name. The collection was published in the UK in 2016.

The short storiesEdit

First publication of storiesEdit

All of the stories in The Big Four first appeared in The Sketch magazine in 1924 under the sub-heading of The Man who was No. 4. The original publication details of the stories (which were carried without illustrations) are as follows:

  • The Unexpected Guest: First published in issue 1614 of The Sketch on 2 January 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 1 and 2 of the book – The Unexpected Guest / The Man from the Asylum.
  • The Adventure of the Dartmoor Bungalow: First published in issue 1615 on 9 January 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 3 and 4 of the book – We hear more about Li Chang Yen / The Importance of a Leg of Mutton.
  • The Lady on the Stairs: First published in issue 1616 on 16 January 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 5 and 6 of the book – Disappearance of a Scientist / The Woman on the Stairs.
  • The Radium Thieves: First published in issue 1617 on 23 January 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 7 of the book with the same title.
  • In the House of the Enemy: First published in issue 1618 on 30 January 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 8 of the book with the same title.
  • The Yellow Jasmine Mystery: First published in issue 1619 on 6 February 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 9 and 10 of the book – The Yellow Jasmine Mystery / We investigate at Croftlands.
  • The Chess Problem: First published in issue 1620 on 13 February 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 11 of the book with the slightly revised title of A Chess Problem.
  • The Baited Trap: First published in issue 1621 on 20 February 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 12 and 13 of the book – The Baited Trap / The Mouse walks in.
  • The Adventure of the Peroxide Blonde: First published in issue 1622 on 27 February 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 14 of the book with the slightly revised title of The Peroxide Blonde.
  • The Terrible Catastrophe: First published in issue 1623 on 5 March 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 15 of the book with the same title.
  • The Dying Chinaman: First published in issue 1624 on 12 March 1924. This formed the basis for chapter 16 of the book with the same title.
  • The Crag in the Dolomites: First published in issue 1625 on 19 March 1924. This formed the basis for chapters 17 and 18 of the book – Number Four wins the trick / In the Felsenlabyrinth. It was also the final Poirot story that Christie wrote for The Sketch.

In the United States, the majority of The Big Four first appeared in the Blue Book Magazine in so far as the publication of the book version occurred part way through the publication of the stories in the Blue Book. In addition, the version published in the Blue Book was that of the book text (with small abridgements) and not that of the 1924 UK Sketch text (see Publication of book collection below). In can therefore be viewed as a serialisation of the book rather than a reprinting of the short stories. All of the instalments carried an illustration. The artist for the first five instalments was L.R. Gustavson while William Molt provided the illustrations for the latter six.

The publication order was as follows:

  • The Unexpected Guest: First published in the March 1927 issue (Volume 44, Number 5) which formed chapters 1 and 2 of the book.
  • The Dartmoor Adventure: First published in the April 1927 issue (Volume 44, Number 6) which formed chapters 3 and 4 of the book.
  • The Lady on the Stairs: First published in the May 1927 issue (Volume 45, Number 1) which formed chapters 5 and 6 of the book.
  • The Radium Thieves: First published in the June 1927 issue (Volume 45, Number 2) which formed chapter 7 of the book.
  • In the House of the Enemy: First published in the July 1927 issue (Volume 45, Number 3) which formed chapter 8 of the book.
  • The Yellow Jasmine Mystery: First published in the August 1927 issue (Volume 45, Number 4) which formed chapters 9 and 10 of the book.
  • The Chess Problem: First published in the September 1927 issue (Volume 45, Number 5) which formed chapter 11 of the book.
  • The Baited Trap: First published in the October 1927 issue (Volume 45, Number 6) which formed chapters 12 and 13 of the book.
  • The Peroxide Blonde: First published in the November 1927 issue (Volume 46, Number 1) which formed chapter 14 of the book.
  • The Enemy Strikes: First published in the December 1927 issue (Volume 46, Number 2) which formed chapters 15 and 16 of the book.
  • The Crag in the Dolomites: First published in the January 1928 issue (Volume 46, Number 3) which formed chapters 17 and 18 of the book.

The announcement of the publication of these stories in the Blue Book had been made as far back as November 1925 when, at the end of their publication of The Lemesurier Inheritance, the editors announced, "Further stories by Agatha Christie, who is firmly established in the front line of writers of mystery and detective tales, will appear in forthcoming issues of The Blue Book Magazine. Watch for The Big Four. The reason for the eventual delay in publication is not known.

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